Hybrid learning is quickly becoming a valuable teaching strategy for teachers worldwide. However, one of the many talking points is accessibility of technology for students and how to overcome those hurdles. With some innovation, and the right information, you can make hybrid learning accessible to a higher margin of students.
With this complete list of essential resources, you as a teacher, or parent, can know what is essential and what can come secondary. Even if all you can afford is a laptop, your student still deserves the right to experience the benefits and education provided by hybrid learning.
Keep reading to learn what technology you need to begin hybrid learning in the most accommodating way possible. Or see ViewSonic’s hybrid learning solutions.
Hybrid learning is a great solution to adopt since many schools are focusing in on student-centered learning even during distance learning. Hybrid learning puts the student first as many of its core benefits relate to student flexibility, inclusivity, and collaboration. Not to mention, it does not completely remove the element of face-to-face that some students may need for their education.
The biggest downside of hybrid learning is that it requires technology. And often technology is what causes there to be a gap in accessible education for students. Knowing what is required and what is extra is great because it allows you to format a learning environment that is accessible to all students. Luckily myViewBoard Classroom is helping to close the gap. Because whether you only have laptops or have access to interactive whiteboards, hybrid learning is for everyone.
What Is Hybrid Learning?
Hybrid learning is a type of blended learning that refers to implementing synchronous lessons that are taught simultaneously in-person and online.
Hybrid learning is great because it allows the children who need face-to-face instruction to receive that while those who desire a more flexible approach can receive that as well. Hybrid learning also allows for varying teaching strategies to be used with only a fraction of the challenge.
You can also learn more about synchronous and asynchronous learning here: Asynchronous vs Synchronous Learning” What’s Best for Distance Education?
Required technologies for hybrid learning means the basics of what you should have. Whether this is in the physical classroom, or the student’s home space, these are the technologies you should have to have successful hybrid learning. Also keep in mind, while you should have at least one or more, you do not necessarily have to have every single technology if they are not accessible for you.
A desktop computer or a laptop is required for hybrid learning. Many modern classrooms can implement hybrid learning with just laptops. Though it is not ideal, it is possible. Computers are great because they are very versatile and powerful.
Computers are often used for notetaking, writing, and independent research. What is also great is that many laptops have built-in microphones and videoing technology. Some even have student packages that include Microsoft 365 or other software for student work. Computers are also great for connectivity between classmates and instructors.
Video technology is important for hybrid learning because many modern teaching strategies focus on student-centered learning. Apart of student-centered learning is student collaboration and active learning. If students cannot see each other, they will have a difficult time interacting. Also keep in mind, that hybrid learning is more than just simply recording a video, it is active and synchronous.
Many technologies have built-in video technology but consider purchasing a separate webcam for hybrid learning. This way you can be sure you have clear quality so that all students can easily see each other and present work if collaborative and sharing software are not available.
Microphones are another important element for hybrid learning. Many technologies will include a microphone option in their hardware, but sometimes they may not be high quality or pick up a lot of noise. An option to solving this is by purchasing an external microphone.
Thankfully, a good quality external microphone can be quite cheap, or very expensive. It depends on your budget, needs, and educational space. For example, it may be more beneficial for a distanced student to get a microphone with noise cancelling abilities than it would be to have one in the physical classroom.
Collaborative software is not a physical hardware. But it is something you should highly consider when creating a hybrid learning space. These can be free things like Google Classroom, all the way to advanced systems purchased by your school district.
Even more so, many interactive whiteboards, like the ones you will learn about in the next section, have pre-installed software that you can use for your classroom. A great example of this is the Viewboard complete with the myViewBoard Classroom software for the perfect hybrid learning solution.
However, distanced students may not be able to access the software outside of classroom, so be aware and choose the best software setup for your students.
Displays are more important for the physical classroom. This is because they are often more expensive, and most of the functionality will be used inside the classroom. There are three main types of displays you can consider.
Interactive Whiteboards is a catch-all term for any large-format display that also responds to real-time actions on its surface. Typically, these mimic whiteboarding functionalities like notetaking but also provide an interactive screen. Having at least one interactive whiteboard in the physical classroom is a great way for in-class students to share their notes or brainstorming with those who are distanced. Even better, if the distance students have the right technology, such as a touch-enabled laptop, they too can write and share on the board.
Projectors are commonplace in many classrooms, old or new. They have great functionality and often are affordable for many school districts. Projectors are normally used as simple displays as even the smartest of projectors require an outside device like a laptop. However, if you simply need a cheap way to help display distance students in the classroom, projectors are a great option and a must-have.
Wireless Presentation Displays are large-scale displays often used as commercial displays or as a front-of-the-room display in classrooms, boardrooms, and anywhere else they’re needed. Wireless presentation displays, or WPDs for short, are not touch-enabled, so they ideal for lecture-style lessons from either an in-person instructor or remotely, especially if the environment isn’t ideal for projectors.
And in many hybrid learning setups, large screens are prominently displayed to the teacher so that they address in-person and remote students simultaneously. Since this display doesn’t need touchscreen functions – but needs to be clearly visible in any lighting – well-placed WPDs are an excellent addition to the hybrid classroom.
Supplementary technologies are not necessarily required but can enhance your students’ comfort and productivity. These technologies can also be supplementary in that they are perfect for accommodating students or providing them with an extra option of assistive EdTech.
External mice may not seem that important since many laptops tend to have built-in trackpads. However, these often wear down much quicker than their external counterpart and are less accurate. To help save you or your student frustration and hand cramps, consider purchasing an external mouse. Even more so, if you have a student with physical impairments, there are even different types of computer mice that can better fit their hand shape for extra comfort.
Touch monitors are a great option for students who attend hybrid classes that are more interactive. If your student’s physical classroom has an interactive whiteboard, it might be worth it to purchase an external touch monitor for them. This is because outside of the touch-enabled feature for more collaboration, many touch monitors are built with better ergonomics to keep your student healthy and more productive.
Tablets also work well since they are portable and highly functional. However, they are much more limited than a computer, so it may not be ideal to rely heavily on tablets for hybrid learning. However, they do have the option for video and microphone if it is the best option accessible for you. Nonetheless, tablets are a great way to add extra materials or helpful notes for students who may need accommodations. They are great for reading textbooks or notetaking with an external tablet-compatible keyboard.
Smartphones are often overlooked due to most teachers seeing them as a distraction rather than a tool. However, smartphones are great for extra materials and educational APPs. For example, if you are doing a hybrid language learning class, you can prompt students to download APPs like Duolingo for self-study rather than assigning homework. Not to mention, smartphones are great for creative videography and photography. And several students actually are so tech-savvy, they use their smartphones for doing their homework!
Advanced technologies are suggested for private schools or schools that have lots of resources. Unfortunately, many schools do not receive much funding or have difficulties receiving government aid, so while these may upgrade your classroom, remember hybrid learning, at its core, is the same as other forms of teaching. If your students are provided with fun and engaging activities, they will learn just the same. But if you have the option to upgrade, here are some suggestions for you:
Multi-display setups for ideal for hybrid teachers that want to use more advanced collaborative strategies. This might include setting up two interactive whiteboards at opposite ends of the classroom or having two or more projectors. With this type of setup, it is much easier to incorporate group collaboration strategies like jigsaw for students to brainstorm and create. But multi-display setups can be done with multiple monitors or even smartphones and tablets depending on the desired result.
Augmented reality (AR) is becoming increasingly popular in many schools worldwide. This is because it is an easy method to increase engagement and interactivity. Though keep in mind, it is still a relatively new technology. However, there are simple augmented reality APPs for both free and paid that are perfect for educational purposes. With the right “triggers” or “markers” you can display things like animals and dinosaurs to help young learners with labelling for example. Best of all, most AR apps, despite being young, are easily sharable and accessible.
If you want to learn more, here are 6 benefits and 5 examples of augmented reality in education!
Learning Management Systems
Learning management systems (LMSs) are defined differently depending on the school’s organizational needs. Typically, an LMS is used for giving out and tracking remote learning objectives. But more advanced LMSs have built-in eLearning authoring tools, have advanced storing and tracking, and basically can distribute all school-related information. The scope of your LMS depends on your school needs and resources. But for the innovative and creative teachers out there, you can often get away with a well formatted Google Drive and solid e-mail organization if you find yourself in a crunch.
Final Thoughts on Essential Hybrid Learning Resources
Hybrid learning resources depend highly on your school and situation. It is important to acknowledge that for many students, even the required essentials may not be accessible for them. If that is the case, try talking to administrators to see what your school budget is to get the ball rolling.
If you would like more information on how hybrid learning can benefit your students, or would like to contact us for more information on how to get accessible EdTech solutions, visit our hybrid learning education solutions page to get all that and more. Or learn more about the distance learning component of hybrid learning here.